It’s been five years since a very significant change occurred in my life. On the night of September 18, 2008, I had an encounter with the North Ridgeville police department…and our Heavenly Father. I was pulled over for the second time while driving under the influence of alcohol. I blew a .012, which wasn’t nearly as bad as the first offense, but it was enough to get me SOBER rather quickly! It was my second offense in less than two years. I had a serious problem.
That night, sitting on the bench, waiting for the second officer to return so I could get my impound information, I made the conscious decision to stop smoking (which was something I felt empowered by), a decision to stop driving drunk, and a decision to live for Christ.
All I could do while looking at the walls was pray. I would shake my head at my ability to get caught again. I would tell God that I knew I screwed up but that He had to help me this time! And I would pray that I would have words to tell Mom and Dad what I had done. I was so remorseful. Sadly, and now laughably, I remember telling the one officer how sorry I was for making him do all this paperwork at 1am in the morning. He just smiled and said it was okay. Really??? And I consciously remember asking rhetorically, “How could this happen again? I thought I was past this”, only to have God respond in my spirit, “It’s ALL or nothing, Grace…all or nothing.”
That was all I needed to hear.
Prior to that day, I had been living a life that is not worthy of sharing (and since I’m forgiven, I’m not going to provide the details-that Grace is gone!). But God didn’t care as much about where I had been, compared to where I was going. He was telling me He forgave me, but I had to stop pushing Him away and going the other direction. It was either align myself with Him or these things would continue.
I was so sick to my stomach. I was ashamed. My parents had raised me better and I was misrepresenting them. They taught me God was forgiving and loving, but that we also had to deal with consequences of sin. I knew better than to deal with life the way I had been.
That night, I said yes to God. It wasn’t the first time, but it definitely had significant meaning. After my breathalyzer reading was recorded, I was sent home with a court date and no car keys. A friend picked me up and dropped me off, never to hang out again. It appeared to be the death sentence of my social life.
I had to tell my parents the next day. I didn’t know how. I had to call off of work and think, and after sixteen hours of straight thinking, I was DONE thinking! I was twenty-eight years old, and had no car to get to work. When I did tell my parents, disappointment reigned, and I was told I could move back home. My stubbornness kept me from doing that, so I agreed to have my mom pick me up from work, take me to my apartment so I could code charts in the evening after work, and then she would pick me up from there to sleep at their house so she could take me to work the following day. What a toll emotionally and physically it put on my parents, for seven full weeks! I will never forget Mom’s sacrifice as we both trudged back and forth from Cleveland to Brecksville to North Olmsted and back. Dad and my sister provided rides when they could. It was so appreciated!
I thank God for His intervention and that I finally listened to the prodding in my spirit. I thank Him for His provision, and for getting me through the court dates, lack of license, lawyer fees, hotel expenses for my “dry-out” weekends, and impound costs. I also thank Him for my loving family who helped me see my need for change, never stopped loving me and who prayed for me during my struggle to let go of the flesh. And mostly, for my now-husband, Kevin, who was my best friend during my struggle. He didn’t leave my side, but believed in me, and urged me to stay the course, even when neither he or I would know what that meant. I had to make some serious lifestyle changes.
If you know someone who struggles with alcohol and isn’t able to say no, please listen to their cry. I had gone through my divorce during my first DUI offense, and knew it was because I was numbing myself. The second time I got caught, was just me not knowing how to say no to what allowed me to disconnect. Both times I was caught, I was relieved.
I will be clear: I am not against drinking by any means. I still have a social life, and a full one! I love to be social, share a glass/bottle of wine in celebration, or meet for a few drinks after work to connect with someone. However, when alcohol determines your calendar and life choices, it becomes a problem. My previous struggle has been given to God and it now isn’t an issue for me if I don’t have alcohol. I can take it or leave it. But for some people, that is not an option. I realize it MAY be an issue if I let it, so I have to be careful. We all have a tendency to do something in excess, but when it starts costing you jobs, relationships and money, it is NOT worth it.
And friends, I am not judging any of you. This is not an “I’m better than all of you” post by any means. I just wanted to share my personal account because milestones are huge to those of us who overcome things. This was a huge struggle for me to overcome given my reasons for starting drinking in the first place. For a time, it defined me. But now God defines me.
I guess you could say this is my public service announcement for drinking responsibly, putting others first and surrendering the parts of ourselves that prohibit us from having right relationships with God and others. Where some may think this was all just a conscious part of my being able to stop bad habits, I know in my heart, it truly is a gift of God to stop sin from taking over me again in that way. True surrender means letting go and giving it to God. And He definitely took it. 🙂